Karma Meters are Bullshit

I've touched (bitched) about this before, but I just can't stop! Karma Meters in games are bullshit, it always comes down to black and white moral choices, either help the <insert poor group here> or eat their livers while they are still alive.

What brought this on was last night another session of Fallout 3(there will be spoilers), you see I was playing through some side quests for shits and giggles when I got frustrated with not being able to find the stupid "Family" and I goggled the wiki entry on them and printed it off without reading it.

So I stomp on in to their super secret hide out, and yes I will admit to drooling a little bit at all the weapons, ammo, and armour laying all over the place, but that wasn't my main motive for what happened next.

You see this group of wankers had been raiding a settlement for a while, all part of life in post-apocaliptica, but what really set the settlers off was the fact that on the last raid they killed a family, kidnapped a kid, and killed off all their cows. Now personally that would tank me off as well, but not out of any moral indignation, but out of pure stupidity! When your livelihood depends on "harvesting" settlements destroying their ability to feed themselves is a very stupid thing to do.

Anyway enough back-story, so I trump on in, and talk to the head honcho and find out that they aren't just a normal band of raider dickheads, they are a band of vampire/canible raider dickheads. Wow didn't see that coming... what with the bodies drained of blood, the dark underground lair, the sledgehammer sized hints that they only come out at night, oh and the pale skin along with the trench coats... nope not at all!

So after listening to this guy blabber on for a few minutes about how persecuted they are, how normal "humans" will never understand them, how they don't need to reform as they are doing nothing wrong, I just took out my shotgun and blew his head off, killed the rest of his "family" and looted the place to the bedrock.

I hear a ding and low and behold I take a freaking karma hit (I'm trying to play as a good guy for a change) and quest failed! A WTF moment followed and I grab up the wiki sheet I printed off and read it, turns out to get a good karma score you're suppose to talk the settlement into bleeding themselves for these wankers so that they'll provide protection.

I know vampires are hip and all these days, I love vampire movies, books, and tv shows, but WTF is up with this twilight bullshit infecting my damn games.

Vampires are parasites (in fiction, I know they aren't real), these guys even worse then the normal versions, they don't have any supernatural excuse (not even going into the whole living off just drinking human blood...), they just like eating people, they are freaking sick, they refuse to change, so the only thing for them is a 12 gauge to the face!

I don't see how not setting up a protection racket for a bunch of cannibals should in anyway negativity effect my karma and this kiddies is why karma meters are bullshit. They impose moral choices based on arbitrary rules the programmers and writers make up without any regard to the true measure of a moral choice, intent, intent is king in moral choices, is the medic who givers the soldier with his guts falling out a fatal dose of morphine a bad person? No! His intent is to stop the pain, even if his actions result in the ending of a life.

That isn't even covering what I'd really do in a sand box game with a real moral choice system, I'd take every good choice in public and build up enough of a support base that I could get away with murder behind closed doors... you know like anyone who subscribes to the The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord list.

Until such times as they can actively measure intent (and wont that be a hoot) in a game, karma meters are conceptually flawed and shouldn't be given such a huge impact.

At least in Fallout 3 you don't grew horns or a halo like in some games I could mention....


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